Inside the Artist’s Studio: Let’s Put in Some Happy Little Trees
The Love of Art and Community with Kerian Massey
By Derrick White
“The hardest part of being an artist, for me, is trying to really express myself genuinely without it becoming some monstrous fluff because all I really want to do is create and not have some deep meaning to it. Other times my art is deep, but not always,” states artist Kerian Massey.
Massey graduated from The Art Center in Tucson, AZ with an Associate’s degree in advertising art. She was taught technical drawing and illustration. “I am also a self-taught painter. I picked up a paintbrush at age 24. I wouldn’t say I was very good for another 6 years or so. It took some time to learn. I’m still learning,” she adds.
Massey creates in a daring, colorful surrealist style appealing in good design and cheeky tastes. The artist states, “I paint ideas more than anything. I will have a big idea floating in my head and it won’t go away until I create it or at least get the idea sketched out onto a canvas. I will paint in whatever style suits my mood. I like realism but most of what I paint lends itself to a more illustrative style with weird juxtapositions.“ Kerian primarily uses acrylic on canvas. She also loves Prismacolor markers, colored pencils and heavy paper for illustrations, scratchboard, pen and ink and a myriad of sculpting materials.
Back in high school, Kerian Massey won an art contest and redesigned the academic logo for the school. The artist recounts another early inspiration: “I went to Puerto Rico on a vacation with a friend and was at a beautiful beach lamenting I only had 2 dollars left, yet we still had two more days left of our trip. A guy saw me drawing and asked me to create a sign for his business. I made $40 and it really hit home I could make a living making art. When I moved to Texas I created art for schools. I designed murals and mascots for a company called Graffixx. It was incredible to see my work so large, being painted by these talented teams of artists. I got to create the zodiac art mural in the TJC planetarium rotunda and I have created art for local schools including Lindale, Mabank, Tyler, Rains, and Van. As I was doing mural art, I had the opportunity to get my art onto Extreme Home Makeover five times.”
Kerian’s favorite artist is Bob Ross (American painter, art instructor, and television host). “I watched him as a kid with my dad. He taught me the basics of painting long before I ever picked up a brush. He made no real money from it. His heart made me love his work. I still am not a giant fan of his actual art but he is an artist I will forever admire because it was so much more about the love for art than anything else,” she states. Massey also finds inspiration in the art of Shepard Fairey (contemporary street artist, graphic designer, illustrator and founder of OBEY), Betsy Youngquist (surreal, mixed media artist), and Ron English (the artist who explores brand imagery and advertising), just to name a few.
“Art has given me a community of wonderful people who are determined to make our world a better and more colorful place. If it wasn’t for art, I wouldn’t have met so many brilliant, beautiful hearts who inspire me and so many others to keep creating and moving forward. Art is a common ground in a world filled with fear. We cannot escape our need to connect and communicate. Art connects in both a cathartic and subversive way so it is easy to let go. I feel like I have found a place now in my life where I can truly be myself and also give refuge to others who are seeking the same. I feel like the community is key to a solid life filled with good things and once you have it, the paradigm shifts,” states the artist.
Massey adds, “As I grew as an artist I felt one thing I was really lacking was community so I joined the Tyler Art of Peace Committee and got the privilege to create a peace-themed mural at Discovery Science Place and a Peace Pillar for the Under the Bridge Ministry. I also go to create several peace poles found throughout Tyler. I am now a part of the Van Zandt Art and Cultural Committee and we just hosted our first art show, the Van Go Art Fair in Van, Texas. It was a spectacular event. We will be hosting the annual Junebug Summer Fair in Ben Wheeler, June 22 and 23 at The Forge.”
Back in November of 2018, Massey encountered the opportunity of a lifetime. She and three other kindred spirits and fellow artists, Trystan Rhys, Randy Martin, and Jessica Lisby, opened an art gallery in Edom called the Edom Art Emporium. It is a hub of creativity and acceptance. The EAE, as it’s affectionately called, hosts a litany of events each month from classes, Thursday night open mics, and themed art shows. So come out and get a sense of the happy little community underneath the piney wooded canopy of Edom, Texas. Where you can shop, eat, unwind, and enjoy not only the art but the people as well.
Kerian Massey concludes, “I want to leave people with the thought art is obtainable. It is not just for museums and high society. It is in everything we do. It’s on our cereal boxes and as we drive down the street it is displayed on both sides of the road in various forms. Art is endless. It surrounds us. We couldn’t express ourselves without it. We are nothing without artistic human expression. Take a moment to appreciate what art means to you. It is obtainable because it is in everything you do already.”
Edom Art Emporium dates and art events: edomartemporium.com
Artist’s website: keriansart.com.